One of Kirkuk courts has decided to annul the contracts of Kurdish farmers for 60 dunums of agricultural land in a village of Daquq district in favor of a number of Arab farmers.
The court’s verdict was delivered to the two Kurdish farmers, in the village of Tareq in Daquq district on December 20, 2021, who had been using these lands for agricultural purposes for many years.
Shikar Mardan, a lawyer for one of the Kurdish farmers, told KirkukNow, "The decision was issued by the Daquq court, and stipulates the annulment of the contracts of two Kurdish farmers and granting farmlands to several Arab farmers."
"The area of agricultural land is 60 dunums... The court's decision was based on a letter from the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture addressed to the Kirkuk Agriculture Department, in which it was emphasized that this 60-dunum land is not covered by Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, thus the court made its decision in the light of that letter," Mardan stressed.
Part of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution deals with the issue of resolving the ownership of agricultural lands in the Kirkuk province, especially those lands distributed to Arab settlers originally from the middle and southern provinces of Iraq during the period of the Baath regime.
The return of Arab farmers and their quest to return to the use of agricultural lands in Kirkuk began after the events of October 16, 2017, when the Iraqi military and security forces returned to Kirkuk and the rest of the disputed territories and ousted the forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.
With the emergence of ISIS in 2014, and years before that, the Kurdish political parties and the Peshmerga were controlling Kirkuk and the disputed territories.
The disputed agricultural lands of expelled Kurdish and Turkmen farmers were distributed to the Arabs in the form of contracts per a decision of the Revolutionary Command Council of Ba'th Party chaired by Saddam Hussein which is valid up today since its abolition requires a counter law by the Iraqi parliament.
Omar Muhammad, one of the two farmers whose agricultural lands were confiscated according to the court’s decision, told (KirkukNow), “We filed an appeal against the decision and we are waiting for a new decision from the court, but the Arab farmers started plowing the lands immediately after the decision was issued and we have prevented them yet.” "
Regarding the reasons for their objection to the court's decision, Omar Mohamed said, "my agricultural contract is valid until 2023."
Judge Qassim Muhammad, head of the Kirkuk Court of Appeal, said in an interview published on the website of the Supreme Judicial Council last week, about the disputes over the ownership of agricultural lands, “These agricultural contracts were previously concluded and blocked under the provisions of Article 140 of the constitution, but the owners of the frozen contracts can file lawsuits to annul it, as long as the person is an original resident of Kirkuk and has not previously received compensation under Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution."
The history of this conflict dates back to the period of the rule of the Baath Regime in 1970s while successive parliaments and governments in Iraq post 2003 have failed to find radical solutions.
In the 1970s, the Baath Party, led by Saddam Hussein, distributed most of the agricultural farmlands of Kurdish and Turkmen farmers in several areas of Kirkuk to Arab settlers brought from central and southern Iraq, in the form of agricultural contracts.
These contracts continued until the fall of the Baath regime in 2003. Then, the Kurd and Turkmen real owners returned to their lands and have been cultivating those lands for the last 18 years.